“Food Truck” Gourmet
Those of you who have followed me here from my previous blog, or Twitter, are familiar with my ladies “gourmet” nights. For years now I have gotten together every month or two with a group of friends to share great food. The way it works is thus: The hostess sets the menu, with or without a theme, and hands out the recipes to the group. Each participant is responsible for making and bringing her assigned dish as written. These are usually not recipes the hostess has tried before, and they give us all the opportunity to try new foods. We’ve enjoyed salt cod fritters, lemon feather tall cake, caviar, northern African, south American, all manner of Asian, Greek, Italian, seasonal, local, healthy, fried, festive and exotic foods.
My turn to host
My house is small. My kitchen will not hold more than two people beyond my own family. In our group there are 8 or 9 of us on any given evening. So another lady in the group graciously offered the use of her home. I set the theme and menu. Food Trucks. Starting with a riff on the ubiquitous “Blooming Onions,” our appetizer was to be “Onion Petals.” Same taste, but easier to prepare. Borrowing from the middle east, Lahmajoon was up next. Described as an “Armenian pizza,” this flatbread is topped with a mixture of ground lamb, tomatoes and spices. It’s perfect finger food. Then a Thai mango salad. Our “main dishes” were going to be my Thai red curry, vegan version with sweet potato, fish tacos with cilantro lime crema and Asian pulled pork tacos with kimchi. Dessert drew from the cupcake fad and a truck favourite – doughnuts. Vegan raspberry tiramisu cupcakes and Italian zeppole with chocolate sauce.
Why am I saying things like “was to be” and “was up next?” Because a family emergency came up very suddenly and our hostess is not able to open her home tonight.
Tacos for us
Because one woman was not going to be able to make it tonight anyway, I prepped her dish. The pulled pork tacos. Simple, really. A rubbed pork shoulder, roasted low and slow, shredded and mixed with a sweet and savoury sauce is the base. This is piled into flour tortillas with kimchi and fresh cilantro. I didn’t make the kimchi, though. There is a wonderful Korean fusion restaurant in town that makes amazing kimchi. So my husband grabbed a large tub on his way home from work.
Hopefully we can reschedule our evening, but in the meantime we are going to eat well tonight.
The flavours in these tacos borrow from places throughout Asia, with kimchi from Korea and a spice blend that is decidedly reminiscent of Chinese barbecue pork. The kimchi is the perfect crunchy, fresh foil for the rich, dark, sweet and savoury balance of the pork .
4-5 lb pork shoulder
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1-1/2 tablespoons dark brow sugar
1 tablespoon spice blend* or 5-spice powder
1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 – 1 teaspoon cayenne
*spice blend – grind together in a mortar and pestle or grinder
1 whole star anise
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
10 whole cloves
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
For the tacos
Cooked pulled pork
4 teaspoons sesame oil
6 tablespoons dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons Sriracha hot sauce
small flour tortillas, warmed
Mix the salt, sugar, garlic powder, spice blend, ginger and cayenne together in a small bowl. Trim any large pieces of fat from the pork. Brush the meat with the sesame oil and pat the rub mixture on all sides. Place the roast in a shallow roaster, just large enough to hold it. Immediately reduce the heat to 250°F and roast uncovered for 5- 6 hours. If the meat starts to dry out, cover it with foil, but let it develop some crust first.
Once the meat shreds easily when pulled with a fork, remove it from the oven and let it cool just enough to handle. Shred it, removing any pieces of fat or gristle. The shredded pork can sit in the fridge for a couple of days at this point, or be frozen for later.
Place the sauce ingredients in a medium pot over low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar has dissolved. Add the pork and heat through. Set aside, or return to the fridge and reheat before serving.
To create the tacos, place a portion of kimchi in the centre of each tortilla. Top with the pulled pork and fresh cilantro and serve with wedges of lime.